HOPEWELL — Graduating seniors in Hopewell are getting their last hurrah this week, courtesy of socially distanced celebrations. Four days of graduation events started Monday with a drive -thru parade.
Students decorated their cars with signs, confetti and messages of joy at finally finishing high school. Mainly teachers and administrators stood on the sidewalks, cheering graduates and their families through the festive crowd, congratulating their achievements.
“What we’re trying to do is fill in the gaps for the incredible experiences that these kids have sacrificed for this situation over which they had no control,” said Hopewell Schools Superintendent Melody Hackney. “It’s funny, many of them going through the line today have said ’Please do this again, this was so special.’”
Public schools around Virginia have been closed since March due to COVID-19. That pandemic has greatly interrupted many traditions that graduating seniors are used to like prom and the senior awards banqet. Hopewell Schools has promised 2020 Seniors that they will still get to have those events when the pandemic eventually ends.
“I don’t want them to sacrifice that forever,” Hackney said. “They’ve sacrificed it for a little while but not forever. We don’t know when and how that’s going to work out but we’ve given them our word and put it in writing that it’s going to happen.”
Hopewell’s seniors will graduate over the following three days at Merner Field. The field will be sectioned off into different stations where students can see the speeches from the valedictorian, salutatorian, superintendent and Hopewell mayor. Afterward they will have a chance to cross the stage and receive a diploma.
Commencement is scheduled between 9 a.m. and 6:30 p.m. June 2 – June 4 to abide by social distancing regulations.
State Delegate Carrie Coyner attended Hopewell’s graduation parade, saying the was proud with the way Hopewell Schools was able to handle graduation under the circumstances.
“its so important, our kids are something to rejoice about and finishing school is a huge accomplishment. This day where we can rejoice with them and with their families is really important,” Coyner said. “I am super proud of our city of hopewell schools that they figured out how to celebrate and honor our children despite all of what is going on.”